Guest blogging for me today is Zara Lyttle MSW RSW.
Zara just completed her Master's in Social Work. I remember a time long ago (or so it seems) when I was working on my degree, working full time and raising my family. It was extremely difficult.
Many women want to make this journey. They don't want to decide between career, education and raising their family. They want to do it simultaneously and actually find the experience rewarding.
How do you do that though? in the face of overwhelm and the bombardment of doubts, how do you stick to the path?
Zara found a way and shares her story here. You will find some great lessons for anyone trying to live life to the fullest!
Starting the journey
As a mother of two young children working part-time as a professional in the social work field I encountered a unique opportunity when my son was a year old. It was the chance to take my Masters in Social Work near my home community in Northern Alberta. This was something I always wanted to do and my husband encouraged me to apply. I knew I would be embarking on something that would change my daily life and future direction. I also know myself and if I was accepted into the program, I would commit myself to completing it. Here I am 3 years later and I am proud to say I did it, I have my Masters in Social Work! I want to describe to the reader the process of how I was able to manage multiple roles which still ensuring I cared for myself and was “Present” as a mother, wife, friend, professional, and student.
Supportive employers help
When I started my program I knew I would have to continue work part-time. Luckily I had a flexible employer that let me do a great deal of my reporting work from home. This eased the pressure on my time for attending block week classes and doing my practicum three days per week. The support from my employer was just a piece of the puzzle that was my support system while I completed the two year masters program.
Build a large support network
The biggest support I had was my husband. He provided the encouragement when I doubted being able to juggle everything. He took time off work to care for our children while I was away and generally was just there, telling me how proud he was of me. It wasn’t easy as we didn’t always have a lot of time together, but we soon fell into a routine of “scheduling” time together as almost a reward for me completing schoolwork. It was a motivator for getting my work done.
Another huge support was my mother, who helped me get through a move partway through the program, also provided child care, and allowed me to complain about my workload while still reminding me that I “could always quit if I wanted to”. It was funny, that reminder that I was making a choice to do the coursework was a motivator for me. She kept me sane through the process.
Surround yourself with positive people
Altogether, I took support from friends and family when I needed it and was encouraged all along the way. One friend let me stay with her during my block classes and listened as I excitedly told her what I was learning. I encourage anyone wanting to go back to school for higher education to surround themselves with positive people who love you and will give you the support you need. You also have to be willing to accept that support, as that isn’t always easy either!
Be present each moment along the journey
Lastly, the most important piece of advice that I believe can help anyone attempting to juggle the multiple roles we all have in life is being “present” in the moment. My focus was that for each task, each role I was mentally and emotionally “present” for them. It wasn’t always easy when I had papers due, family commitments, and work reports upcoming. I had to commit myself to being present at all times. When I was with my children and husband I focused on them. When I was writing a paper I focused on that. When I was at practicum I focused on that. Well…you get the idea. Being present was a constant exercise in focus that I believe allowed me to accomplish what I needed to while still being a mother to my children (which was the most important thing to me in the whole process).
This was my visual cue I carried around with me during the two year program. Good luck to all those that embark on the journey of balancing roles and being “present”. It can be done, but not without support …
Use of all available wisdom is true power!
As leaders we believe we should know the answers. People look to us to lead the way and set the pace. The truth is, we often don't actually know the answers and we don't know for sure what direction to go or how fast.
There may be help, right under your nose, to figure it out There may be wise sages around you.Yes, your staff members, your employees, those people who you are leading.
Among your team, are people who have more business experience and more life experience. There are people who have taken different training than you or worked with different customers or clients. There are people who have had the time to reflect and consider things in ways that maybe you have not. There are people who have lived through times and experiences much different than your.
These people may offer you much needed wisdom, if only you ask.
Seek these people out. Ask their advice. Have lunch with them. Offer to buy them a coffee. Then ask what they might do in your situation and why? Both their intuitive answer and their reasoning behind their pick may provide you with things you hadn't thought about.
Seek wisdom from your elders.
Today I have a fellow coach guest blogging for me. Joseph is an MCC. In coaching acronyms that means he's a Master Certified Coach. Those newer to the coaching profession like myself as an ACC (Associate Certified Coach) are often in awe of the MCC's. We admire them, look up to them and desire to follow in their footsteps.
As such I am grateful to be able to share Joseph thoughts. Find out more about Joseph here and follow his blog here.
Getting things done
According to Bossidy and Charan, authors of Execution, The Discipline of Getting Things Done, it is not lack of innovative ideas or planning or even enthusiasm, but the lack of actual execution of tasks that most undermines corporate success in North America. Is it not disturbing to find all the other components in good supply and yet the actual doing part is missing or implemented in a weak, slow and/or incomplete way? Some on the team will surely find this frustrating. The stakeholders will not accept it for long. The client base will soon erode toward those who can and do get it done.
Identify who owns the task
One of the key components of successful execution is to honestly identify who is the owner of the task. If the task owner remains the CEO trouble is likely. In smaller companies the line between the players can be a bit blurry sometimes so it is especially vital that the ‘owner’ of the task be clearly identified. And also essential that the group members put their shoulders behind the ‘owner’ since, again in a small company, that owner may not have a room full of staff to help do what needs doing. We are all Spartacus in a small company.
When it is decided, by whatever means, that a task is to be executed, a number of simple questions, answered sincerely and with commitment, can make all the difference between done and languishing. Here are some of the more basic questions.
* What are the deadlines for those absolute steps?
* Who will be the owner of each of these steps?
* What support help will be provided and by whom, to get these steps done
properly and on time?
Answering questions leads to success
When the foregoing and maybe a few more, questions are answered, the chances of success increase dramatically. How many tasks have you experienced where the above questions were clearly answered for all involved?
Honesty is non-negotiable
In order to get to the real answers and to make the task truly happen on time, honesty is non-negotiable. If something is not on track, naming it quickly, accurately and without emotion is the shortest path to solution and getting back on track. This means that some will feel uncomfortable. So be it. When trust and respect among the group members is high, the option of telling the truth promptly and fixing what needs fixing fast is strong. Being ‘nice’ just does not work. It slows things down and weakens the kind of fixes that are suggested. If the group is ‘together’ against the challenge of the task, no one will mind getting a bit of mud on them as they pull on that rope.
If we want to get to done sooner than the others, we need to be fully invested in getting it done and done on time and done well, together. Execution is a team activity.
Joseph Seiler MCC
coaching the best in business… you
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